Attempting to Snap Slide as Crunch Time Hits for Black Bears

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

Bear down.

It’s not just a clever pun, but it needs to become the mantra for the Maryland Black Bears right now.

Mired in an eight-game losing skid, you have to feel it’s a frustrating feeling for these young men. A team that got out to a lightning start, that looked like world beaters, that looked like they could be the team to beat in the East Division. But hockey doesn’t happen like that, you have limit mistakes, get the bounces going your way, and make the most of opportunities given. The Black Bears have done most of those three on the list, but still haven’t been getting the results.

The stats tell a helluva tale from the results. In this slide, the Black Bears have been involved in four one-goal results, three games with the opponent potting the final goal as an empty-netter, leaving only one game that they were down bad– the first game of the skid against Maine. Only three games were the opponents had four-or-more goals, which shows that the defense and goaltending is pretty on-point. On the flip side, the Black Bears have only scored three-or-more goal in two of these games during the slump.

One possible outcome for the lack of scoring may be the power play not being able to connect on their opportunities given. In this slide, the Black Bears power play is 1-for-32 (3.1%), which doesn’t bode well moving forward. Maryland power play is working at a 7.8% (9-for-116), ranking last in the NAHL. Putting that in perspective– the Black Bears have more short-handed goals in the skid (2) and in the season (11) than the power play does. When you have an average for four power plays per game, plenty of chances are left on the table.

Is there one big issue to fix with the extra man, though?? The puck movement has been better on the power play, but it seems like the possession of the puck where they have some issues. Whether it’s an over-aggressive penalty kill throwing guys off or too much over-handling of the puck, there’s nothing that’s not allowing this team to get a lot of looks on net or keeping consistent pressure on net. Just an adjustment here and there on zone entry and then how rebounds are handled after blocks or attempt on net– this machine could get rolling.

This is still a solid team, still a team that can be the best in the young franchise’s history. It’s just a matter of getting the offense clicking again, which shouldn’t be hard for a team who had a 3.25 goals-per-game clip prior to this slide. With 19 games remaining, it’s definitely gut-check time for the Black Bears. The East could be one of the tighter divisions in this league and Maryland is in the thick of it. They have to tools to make the playoffs and make some noise.

They just have to bear down.

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